French PM faces anger after testing positive for COVID
Paris – France’s prime minister, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday, has been singled out on social media and beyond as an example of what not to do in the pandemic.
Several videos are circulating of the unconvincing Prime Minister Jean Castix forcefully shaking hands with elected officials in an enclosed space at the Paris Mayor’s Conference on November 16. Many people point out that this goes against France’s official position that everyone should continue to take preventive measures against the spread of COVID-19.
They also note that Castex has called the French Caribbean province of Guadeloupe “irresponsible” in implementing COVID-19 measures when it has not itself adhered to the rules.
Gabriel Attal, a spokesman for the French government, had jumped to the defense of Castex when the video first began circulating. “We are all human,” he said.
But Castex’s positive test is a potential embarrassment for the French government and President Emmanuel Macron ahead of the presidential election in April.
The Castex office says the 52-year-old has contracted the infection from his 11-year-old daughter and is in self-isolation for 10 days.
It’s unclear if Castex, who was vaccinated in the spring, has symptoms. His office could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Experts say Castex’s behavior indicates a broader decline in vigilance now that most of France’s population has received vaccinations. A prominent government figure, Labor Secretary Elizabeth Bourne, warned against complacency this month, acknowledging that “we may have lapsed a bit, as barrier measures are becoming less respectful”.
Mask sales in France fell by three quarters in the year to August 2021.
But for now, the French media are focusing their anger on Castex, noting that this is the fourth time that Castex has had a “contact case” of the virus, even though he has never tested positive for the virus.
As a result of his positive test, several French ministers have self-isolated while awaiting test results, including Europe Minister Clement Bonn, who deleted a picture on Instagram of him laughing and leaning on Castex without wearing a mask.
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